Monday, January 22, 2007

Big Brother - Is Reality TV real?

“Big brother is watching you". These ominous Orwellian words have long become a reality. More precisely, on Reality TV.

When George Orwell wrote - in 1949 - a book called "1984", in which he had created the 'Big Brother', he probably never imagined this - that the State’s surveillance, he envisioned, will in fact spill beyond his imaginative futuristic thinking, into something of an engaging entertainment.

When he predicted that you as an individual can never escape the watchful eyes of the State, no matter where you are and what you do, he probably did not think of Live TV shows! That the candid cameras will zealously zoom right into people’s submissive souls. Even to bare their heartbeats and their mind-games for eager eyes.

Live cameras, real people, real personalities, and real problems are what 'Reality TV' boasts of. But, truly, are they? Are they always real?

When a Tough Trump fires an incompetent officemate on ‘Apprentice’; when a bad Goody swears at a glamorous Indian housemate, Shilpa, on ‘Big Brother’; when a tough nut is unceremoniously thrown out, and can’t be on ‘Survivor’, any more; when a lovey-dovey couple is alternately evicted out of ‘Big Boss,’ (apparently for their own good), Shouldn’t we ask ourselves, ‘Is it really real’?

Undoubtedly, it is the voyeurs in all of us who continuously contribute to the rise of Reality TV. It’s our deep desire to see the celebrities, and sometimes non-celebrities, in unrehearsed behaviour - with no second takes - that provides fodder to the producers. We become armchair analysts of some seemingly artistic antics. And pseudo researchers on behavioural psychology.

Every time we discuss these shows at office water-coolers, or home get-togethers, we – unknowingly - make the Television Rating Points of these shows to soar higher. Every time we convert a non-viewer to go home and switch on the show, we – unknowingly – raise the stakes of those on TV, even higher.

Who doesn’t know that this is all for a few dollars more - to the producer, to the artists, to the advertisers, and to the winners? Of course there is also – on the side - lots and lots of eye-candy for all of us - the greedy viewers with hungry eyes.

The beeped out words that shouldn’t be heard on TV, the blurred out parts that shouldn't be seen on TV, tell us all that we can't really get that close to reality. The construed situations, dictated by Big Brothers and Big Bosses, the sudden change of rules in the middle of the game, tell us that all is not fair. The pretentious friendships and emotional outbursts show us that personalities are in fact altered by the effect of confinement in closed spaces. So, is it real?

If it is actually a game show, is it real or is it played? And whether it is played or not, is it doing us any good? Are we better off with or without it?

The answers and perceptions may vary a lot. But Reality TV is certainly becoming the new age’s new addiction!

And all of us seem to be saying a different phrase - "Big brother, WE are watching you"!!!


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kenny Rogers - My Favourite

Kenny Roger's Performance with Dolly Parton.

When at College, it was my tamil friend, Muthu who gave me a Christmas tape of various artists with Kenny Rogers' When a Child is Born in it. And I got hooked to the wonderful, deep, vibrating voice. Perhaps, for life!

Once, my bengali friend, Ghosh, asked me, if I heard Kenny Rogers' Scarlet Fever. I said 'No', and then quickly borrowed another tape, heard it, and loved it a lot. Ghosh is somewhere in India serving the Indian Civil Service - he was one of the few among my classmates who had worked hard and succeeded to go the IAS way! - but wherever he is now, I know he gave me a special bonding to this Country music artist.

When studying for my management degree, my punjabi friend, Karandeep Singh Mangat gave me "Twenty Greatest Hits of Kenny Rogers", and within a month I must have listened to the tape a hundred times, and knew at least six of those songs by heart!

But the tapes from my telugu friend, Christopher Joshua Dalavai - who became closest to me not just for music but for friendship for friendship's sake - got me sorely bitten by the Kenny Rogers bug. Those days, his brother was in the Gulf - that was a big thing in the late eighties - and Christo had a fantastic stereo sytem and an amazing collection of tapes.

I listened to KG music more and more and got to love it more and more. So much so that I had put up a large poster of Kenny Rogers in my room, torn from Sun magazine (the most & perhaps the only trendy mag for youth then), besides the poster of Jurgen Klinsmann torn from Sportstar. I used to convince my circulating library owner to allow me to tear these posters from old issues.

Once, when my sister's friends came and saw the poster, they laughed. "Instead of having film actresses' posters, your brother has got a poster of an old man with a white beard. Is your brother crazy??"

Well, in a way, I was really crazy about Kenny Rogers. Well, though the duets with Sheena Easton (We've got tonight), Dolly Parton (Islands in the Stream), Kim Carnes (Don't fall in love with a dreamer) are all his great hits, I love his solos, the rare 'Stranger' and the "Scarlet Fever' most. But of course all the world over he will be remembered for The Gambler, The Coward of the County, Lady, Lucille, Blaze of Glory, You Decorated my Life, ....I can go on, but I must stop.

I just thank God for music. And thank God for Friends!


PS: In the video above, observe Dolly Parton's dig at Sheena Easton who originally sang We've got tonight. And also at Kenny Rogers' wife Marianne.